By: Damon Hunter
There has been known confusion from Whitefish Bay residents as to what number they should dial in the case of an emergency. Some of this confusion is due to some small magnets that had been distributed which listed several local numbers stating emergency numbers.
Band Manager, Laura Kakeeway, commented that those magnets didn’t in fact contain emergency numbers, but were purely for office, a non-emergency contact. She says that the number to dial in an emergency is the simple three digit 911.
It was sometime within the past few years that Naotkamegwanning had applied and received 911 status under the band, which Kakeeway was not able confirm.
Though Andrea Joyce of Naotkamegwanning EMS had confirmed the 911 status. As Director of Paramedic Services, she oversees all operations regarding ambulance.
She touched on the specific qualifications for the 911 number. To get it, a region must have all three emergency services – fire, ambulance, and police, she says.
“At one point, [the fire service] was active with us and police as well. It’s just my understanding that they were not able to find someone to run [the fire service]”.
She says her and band manager have been trying to confirm a memorandum of understanding with the Sioux Narrows Fire Department (SNFD) if they need further resources.
She explains that in this region, all forms of emergency 911 calls go to the Kenora Central Ambulance Communications Centre – who are responsible for contacting the nearest emergency services in the region of crisis.
She says that equipment such as the Jaws of Life can greatly assist in retrieving victims if they ever find themselves trapped within a vehicle. A tool such as this is lacking in availability in Naotkamegwanning. The SNFD are in possession of one, she claims.
Brian Copenace of the Whitefish Bay First Nations Fire Department is lead volunteer, but Kenora Central Ambulance and Fire Communications Centre (dispatch) has him listed as fire chief – though he mainly performs vehicle maintenance on the department’s fire truck.
According to Copenace, the fire department’s radio tower was severely damaged in a storm last summer. Because of this they’re unable to receive proper radio calls from dispatch. Reportedly, as of now, they rely on cell phone calls as their beepers do not work.